Donald Currie & Co. was established in 1862 by Scotsman Donald Currie, to run a regular sailing ship service to India. The first steamships entered service on the India route in 1872 and the same year, a passenger and private mail service from the UK to South Africa was inaugurated.
In 1876 the company name was changed to Castle Mail Packet Company Limited and a joint mail contract was awarded together with the Union Steam Ship Company.
Calls at Flushing began in 1889 resulting in the grant of a contract to carry Dutch mails to South Africa.
In 1900 Castle Line merged with the Union Steam Ship Co. to form Union-Castle Mail Steam Ship Co., the joint concern being managed by Donald Currie. The company’s fleet grew to 47 steamers. The enormous improvement of communication between England and South Africa was largely due to Donald Currie and his ships.
Currie became recognised as one of the highest authorities on shipping. In 1875 he was elected chairman of a committee of ship owners to consider proposed changes in laws affecting the mercantile marine, and he was responsible for important amendments of the Merchant Shipping Act of 1876.
Donald Currie later entered into politics, becoming an MP from 1880, and receiving a knighthood in 1881, to his retirement from Parliament in 1900. Sir Donald Currie died in 1909.